Monthly Archives: April 2022

Two days on a Siberian road that only exists in winter.

Despite these hard times, we continue our work saving the world from all manner of cyber-maliciousness. We adapt; we carry on. Meanwhile, I hope my travel notes and photos will bring a little cheeriness to all who view them – because there’s hardly a better way to do that than with the beauty of nature (and a spot of -50° adventure).

After Yakutsk, our next port of call for a proper overnight stay was the town of Mirny, still in Yakutia, some 1200km away. Again, not much to report on, so I’ll fast-forward to the following morning – starting out in Mirny – heading south and onto the winter road from Tas-Yuryakh to Verkhnemarkovo (that map shows how much further we’d have to drive were it not for the winter road). Here we are – at the Mirny town limits:

Not got much time to read this post? Then here it is, in video form, condensed into one minute (I’m being dishonest here: after watching it, I’m sure you’ll want to read the whole post:) (also available on YouTube):

Read on…

How to repair the underside of a ship’s hull, still in the river, in -50˚C Yakutsk!

Despite these hard times, we continue our work saving the world from all manner of cyber-maliciousness. We adapt; we carry on. Meanwhile, I hope my travel notes and photos will bring a little cheeriness to all who view them – because there’s hardly a better way to do that than with the beauty of nature (and a spot of -50° adventure).

Hi folks!

After our overnight stay in Khandyga, it was back on the road and heading for Yakutsk. Thing is – that stretch of road to Yakutsk was so thoroughly boring that there’s absolutely nothing of interest to report to you, dear readers. Accordingly, I’ve fast-forwarded to Yakutsk; for there can never be anything boring about the extraordinary Siberian city of Yakutsk…

Here‘s a primer for what the city’s all about – from last year. We basically repeated much of the itinerary detailed in that post, so I won’t duplicate here. As to this year’s novelty…

We visited… the dockyard of Zhatay, just outside Yakutsk. A dockyard? Eh?! How could that possibly be of interest to a group of very well-traveled – seen-practically-everything – tourists? Actually…

Meanwhile, here’s the Lensky Fleet…

…Actually, there is something unique about these river docks. Soon, 100 – 130 boats/ships will be navigating the Lena river here. But some need repairing…

Read on…

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Another day, another 500km of -50˚C cruising: Oymyakon to Khandyga.

Despite these hard times, we continue our work saving the world from all manner of cyber-maliciousness. We adapt; we carry on. Meanwhile, I hope my travel notes and photos will bring a little cheeriness to all who view them – because there’s hardly a better way to do that than with the beauty of nature (and a spot of -50° adventure).

Leaving Tomtor (the day after our fun at Oymyakon), ahead lay nearly 500km until our next overnight stop – in the town of Khándyga. First up, 150km on a narrow road to the highway (snow-and-hoarfrost-coated forest all the way); next – ~200km on a picturesque section of the highway (mountainous-gorgeousness all the way); and finally – ~100km of not-so picturesque highway (somewhat boring flat plains).

The first stretch – which we covered in darkness two nights previously coming the other way – looked a lot more positive by day. Like this:

Read on…

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The world’s coldest village: check (ver. 2022)!

Despite these hard times, we continue our work saving the world from all manner of cyber-maliciousness. We adapt; we carry on. Meanwhile, I hope my travel notes and photos will bring a little cheeriness to all who view them – because there’s hardly a better way to do that than with the beauty of nature (and a spot of -50° adventure).

So here we were, at the Pole of Cold of the northern hemisphere – in the small village of Oymyakon. There’s not a great deal to check out in a village with just several hundred inhabitants, in the middle of nowhere, which also happens to be one of the coldest places on the planet. But check it out we simply had to because… Oymyakon, silly!

Comfort levels for molly-coddled city-dwelling tourists are fairly low – but you’re hardly going to stay for long here. It comes with a few strange uniquenesses too – for example, boiling hot water comes out of the taps here, not the regular hot water as is the norm the world over. Also – you need to wear more layers of clothes than you ever thought was physically possible here. Still – we all managed with the extreme unusualnesses fairly well; in fact – so much so some of the posse (while resembling Michelin Men on a walkabout) signed up for the next trip here!

Read on…

On and on… to Oymyakon.

Despite these hard times, we continue our work saving the world from all manner of cyber-maliciousness. We adapt; we carry on. Meanwhile, I hope my travel notes and photos will bring a little cheeriness to all who view them – because there’s hardly a better way to do that than with the beauty of nature (and a spot of -50° adventure).

It’s a three-day drive to get from Magadan to Oymyakon. That’s if you’re in no major hurry. The route goes like this: day 1: Magadan > Susuman; day 2: Susuman > Ust-Nera; day 3: Ust-Nera > Oymyakon. This means that, as I write this, we’ll be spending the upcoming night in Oymyakon. As we set out from Ust-Nera, we had 440km to cover, with the highlight of the day being the most beautiful spot on the whole of the Kolyma Highway – the Olchansky Pass – completely covered in snow and hoarfrost:

Endless whiteness in all directions. Even the roadsides – magical… both in the sunshine and in the shade:

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Kolyma ports-of-call – No. 2: the Indigirka Tube (no place for delicate cars).

Despite these hard times, we continue our work saving the world from all manner of cyber-maliciousness. We adapt; we carry on. Meanwhile, I hope my travel notes and photos will bring a little cheeriness to all who view them – because there’s hardly a better way to do that than with the beauty of nature (and a spot of adventure).

Our second turn off the Kolyma Highway on our Magadan–Yakutsk–Baikal road-trip was onto the Indigirka winter road, to take us to Bolshoy Ushelye (Big Gorge), aka Indigirkskaya Truba (Indigirka Tube) frozen river rapids (set amid a particularly pretty, wide valley; see below). And both the winter road and the rapids were breathtakingly beautiful…

Here we are in the “tube” ->

And this is our day on the map:

Now, what needs doing every morning first thing? Remember?…

Read on…

MYB expedition – day 2: Susuman to Ust-Nera.

Despite these hard times, we continue our work saving the world from all manner of cyber-maliciousness. We adapt; we carry on. Meanwhile, I hope my travel notes and photos will bring a little cheeriness to all who view them – because there’s hardly a better way to do that than with the beauty of nature (and a spot of adventure).

On day-two of our Magadan–Yakutsk–Baikal road trip, we had to get to the next large village on the Kolyma Highway – Ust Nera – where we were to spend the night. I write ‘had to’, since there’s literally nowhere else where we could stay along the route: there are a few tiny settlements, but they each have a full zero hotels apiece. Still, the distance to cover wasn’t so far (the odometers showed 415km that evening), and the views from the road all day were simply fantastic…

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Kolyma ports-of-call – No. 1: A hydroelectric power plant operating in a 100˚C temperature interval.

Despite these hard times, we continue our work saving the world from all manner of cyber-maliciousness. We adapt; we carry on. Meanwhile, I hope my travel notes and photos will bring a little cheeriness to all who view them – because there’s hardly a better way to do that than with the beauty of nature (and a spot of adventure).

Should you ever find yourself on a Kolyma Highway road-trip one winter – which I highly recommend you do, of course – be sure to take the turn off it that takes you to the Kolyma Hydroelectric Power Plant. It’s a real interesting engineering object, and you can have a guided excursion around it – which is just what we did…

Here’s the tunnel to the turbine room ->

Here are the barrier and water outlets:

Snow and hoarfrost around here covers everything:

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The road to Susuman: raptures and unexpectednesses – all according to plan.

Despite these hard times, we continue our work saving the world from all manner of cyber-maliciousness. We adapt; we carry on. Meanwhile, I hope my travel notes and photos will bring a little cheeriness to all who view them – because there’s hardly a better way to do that than with the beauty of nature (and a spot of adventure:). 

We awoke early in the Magadan Hotel in the city of Magadan, ate a modest breakfast, packed up, and piled into our new and shiny vehicles. We covered a mere hundred meters and we were already on the R504 Highway, aka the Kolyma Highway: yes – the road that would take us all the way (nearly 2000km!) to Yakutsk to the west. But on this first day, we were heading north, to the town of Susuman, which would have been 630km; however, we took a turn off the highway to visit the Kolyma Hydroelectric power plant, which added some 80+km to our distance, giving us a total of nearly 750km this day. Not so far, you say? You’re right – not really, but you have to factor in our needing to go much slower than one normally does on a highway. Why? Because the temperature on this day was below -50°C. At such a temperature the cars’ suspension (and everything else made of metal) tightens up and becomes brittle: the ride is much stiffer and bumpier than normal, and something snapping and dropping off is possible, say, when going over an unexpected bump (this doesn’t happen often, but it does happen). Fortunately, no such surprises for us on the first day (sounds ominous vis-à-vis the rest of the trip, right?:), as we were being way too sensible – which was tough, for an autobahn smooth highway like this is just made for speeding fast along ->

Read on…

Magadan–Yakutsk–Baikal (MYB): Poekhali!

Despite these hard times, we continue our work saving the world from all manner of cyber-maliciousness. We adapt; we carry on. I hope my travel notes and photos will help everyone viewing them to overcome any difficulties they may face – because there’s hardly a better cure than the beauty of nature

What can I write about this year’s MYB expedition when half of the route was covered – and extensively documented and photographed – a year ago on the MYM (Magadan–Yakutsk–Moscow) expedition – without repeating myself? I mulled this one over for a quite a while, finally deciding to chronicle this year’s tales in diary format, with adventurous tourists – and adventurous travel agencies – as the main intended audience (that is, after all of you, dear readers – whether you’re adventure tourists or not:).

From a curiously inquisitive tourist’s point of view, Magadan–Oymyakon–Yakutsk as a destination looks like a winner; however, no travel agencies offer it on a regular basis. Well, Yakutsk–Oymyakon–Yakutsk is offered – in minibuses, but that hardly does this destination justice: missed are plenty of other places in this remote corner of the globe that are truly astonishing (which I’ll get to later on). I guess one could of course take a scheduled bus along the highways here, but they’re mostly for locals needing to get from place to place around here – not tourists; that is, though relatively quick, there are no stops for photography, etc. at the most scenic spots. And there are plenty of scenic spots, plenty of very scenic spots, and plenty of sensationally scenic spots!…

Snow, ice, roads, and endless open spaces…

Read on…